The White House is still on a search for a new communications director. Maybe they should hire Mike Pence. The Vice President hit all the right notes in specifically disavowing white supremacists and neo-Nazis as “dangerous fringe groups” in remarks yesterday in Colombia:
Vice President Pence during a visit here Sunday more forcefully condemned the white nationalists behind violence in Virginia than President Trump had a day earlier, singling out what he called “dangerous fringe groups” and vowing to prosecute those responsible for the bloodshed.
“We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo-Nazis or the KKK,” Pence said at a news conference on the first day of his week-long trip to South America. “These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”
That’s the statement that Donald Trump needed to make when the small protest in Charlottesville turned violent. Pence provides an example of a well-considered communications strategy that carefully calculates the issues, passions, and needs of the moment, rather than operating on an extemporaneous basis and on knee-jerk emotions. While extemporaneous and personal responses can communicate authenticity, as Trump has learned, it can also lead to big miscalculations, as was the case this weekend.
Pence provided a professional and competent response, one which also defended the president and attacked the media for its obsession with Trump rather than the perpetrators of the violence:
“I take issue with the fact that many in the national media spent more time criticizing the president’s words than they did criticizing those that perpetrated the violence to begin with,” Pence said. “We should be putting the attention where it belongs, and that is on those extremist groups that need to be pushed out of the public debate entirely and discredited for the hate groups and dangerous fringe groups that they are.”
Of course, one could respond to that by noting that the president missed that opportunity as well. Had Trump called out white supremacists and neo-Nazis specifically, at least some of the media coverage would have shifted back to the perps. Media critics would have had a stronger case had it not.
Still, Pence provides a reminder why strategic communication planning is so important, and what it can accomplish when provided. If Pence isn’t too busy in his VP role, maybe he might consider taking over Anthony Scaramucci’s old post. He could hardly do any worse.
Speaking of communications, at least one provider has had enough of neo-Nazis on its platform:
GoDaddy said in a tweet that Daily Stormer had been told it had 24 hours to move its website domain to another provider because it had “violated” the Web host’s “terms of service.”
GoDaddy’s announcement was in response to an appeal from a Twitter user who called attention late Sunday to an online post by Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin. The post disparaged Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman killed Saturday in Charlottesville, police say, after a man plowed into a crowd with his vehicle. …
GoDaddy spokesman Dan Race confirmed the company’s decision to boot the Daily Stormer in an email to The Washington Post. He said the article about Heyer violated GoDaddy’s terms of service, Race said.
“Given The Daily Stormer’s latest article comes on the immediate heels of a violent act, we believe this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service,” Race wrote in the email.
The article in question derided the victim as “fat” and “childless,” which is pretty mild by Daily Stormer standards. The question is why its normal fare of anti-Semitic and racist demagoguery didn’t somehow cross GoDaddy’s curious standards line before now. The Internet hosting service claims that the mockery of Heyer might incite more violence, while its white-supremacist ouevre was “tasteless” and “ignorant,” but worthy of First Amendment protection.
That’s not the issue, though; fat and childless mockery is also protected by the First Amendment, while being thoroughly despicable at the same time. The First Amendment does not require GoDaddy to provide hosting for the Daily Stormer, as they have concluded in the wake of Charlottesville. This isn’t even a case where a lawyer agrees to represent a reprehensible client for the purpose of defending constitutional rights, since Internet hosting is a robust private market. GoDaddy seemed happy enough to take neo-Nazi cash until Charlottesville. Why not just admit that was a mistake?